Egypt by Train
To save money on one night in a hotel, and in the spirit of adventure – we decided to take an overnight train from Cairo to Luxor. We slept most of the way on the train … or tried to anyway. It turns out that an overnight train is great for someone like Ryan who likes rhythmic noise and lots of light when he’s trying to sleep – not so much for me.
The biggest adventure was waiting on the platform for the train. Our tour guide dropped us off at the train station in Cairo, tickets in hand, told us the train would probably be late and wished us luck. Ooookaaay. Sure, we can figure this out, right? I mean, no one speaks English, we know no Arabic, and there are no signs … soooo … yeah. No problem.
On the bright side, from Cairo, the train only goes south. So we had a 100% chance of going in the right direction.
We set ourselves up in the middle of the platform, and waited. Right when our train was supposed to arrive – a train pulled into the station. Well, that makes it easy! Wait … uh, that train looks very crowded. And there are people hanging out the window, and it’s not really stopping, and people are running alongside it and just jumping on and hanging off the bars on the outside. That … uh … that’s probably not our train. And if it is … maybe we actually want to stay here.
Looking down the platform a large group of Japanese tourists made no motions towards the train. That confirms it. Definitely not our train. They know what they’re doing.
Twenty minutes pass, and another train pulls into the station. We squinted as the headlight blinded us, but strangely the rest of the train looked dark. Oh, it is dark. No lights in the train. This train is all but barren of furniture inside … but this one is packed as well. With soldiers. Who apparently really like blonde hair. (Turns out you don’t have too understand Arabic to get the gist of what they were saying.) Definitely not our train either. Definitely.
The Japanese tourists look disconcerted. You see, in Japan, the trains literally come exactly on time. To the minute. Always. We’re now approaching 30 minutes after the train was supposed to depart, and there’s no train. The Japanese tourists got up and left.
Now I look disconcerted.
But ten more minutes and all became clear … a shiny new train pulled up. With what were clearly sleeper cabins inside. And best of all, in every doorway, a man in a vest, bowtie and white button down shirt – and a soldier with a really serious looking gun. This … This is our train. Now we can go to Luxor.